I'm going to wrestle with this for a moment. The truth is that I am not always comfortable with what I read in the Bible. The letter-book of Romans brings out a myriad of reactive feelings in me. Some of the verses help me sail to heaven… while others hand me into darkness. Sometimes I'm gutted. Sometimes I'm radically inspired. Sometimes, lost. Sometimes, in awe. Sometimes, frustrated, angry. Sometimes, insatiable. And sometimes, like today, I am mixed up mess of all of these feelings.
Perhaps it's the mood I have as I approach the passage today… or perhaps it's the passage. I have joy… the type of joy that someone who has an undeserved relationship with Jesus has. But I also have a heaviness in my soul… the type of weight that someone who has a burden in their soul has.
Yes, there is life in these verses… but life comes out of death… and it's that part that causes me to pause today.
Blood is red. I've seen it. It's real. And it's not pretty. Except when it saves the life of one who has already bled out… then it is somehow tragically beautiful. But this sort of thinking all shatters my comfort zone… It startles my nicely controlled climate and safe walk. And I'm burdened as a result…
Here's the passage: ROMANS 5:9-11 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
So the Good News: We have been justified. That means that somehow we have been declared "just". Somehow, just in time, we just made it. When the judgment was made, even though we had messed it all up, somehow we found ourselves innocent.
The Burdensome News for me today: Justification came about by the blood of Jesus. I am declared "just" because he was declared guilty. That's not fair. And it guts me. How much more of this can I take?
So the Good News: We were reconciled. That means that somehow we have been made right in relationship with God. At some point, even though we were enemies— fighting against God and God's ways in the world— somehow we found ourselves as his friends. How much more Good can Jesus be? I can hardly embrace this thought at this moment without breaking down in agonizing joy.
The Burdensome News for me today: Reconciliation came through the death of Jesus. I am declared God's friend because Jesus was executed. That's not right. This is much more than what is supposed to be true.
The Good and Burdensome News: We will be saved. That means that somehow we have been snatched from imminent peril. Our deliberate and undeliberate wrongs had consequentially put us in a position of endangerment. So, at the end of time, instead of God's wrath being poured upon us for messing it all up… Jesus will proactively step in and accepts wrath upon himself. On the day of our deserved sentencing, we will be saved.
So we boast, or rejoice, or praise God through Jesus who has made us right with God, present and future. But HOW MUCH MORE of this can we take? Jesus just keeps heaping on grace upon grace. John 1:16 is right: "From the fullness of his grace we have reveived one blessing after another." Wave upon wave… upon wave… upon wave… life pounding against me.
It's like burning coals on my head… because God's grace is so undeserved… and yet I welcome it whole-heartedly in unabashed thanksgiving to my Savior. Amen.